A wide range of video conference options now exist and the cost has been dropping steadily to a point where it is now affordable for most businesses. Free internet services such as Skype and iChat have allowed people to become familiar and comfortable with the concept of video conferencing, and people are adopting these tools in their working environment.

Options
Costs
Hardware
Tips for the electrical industry

Options


Typically, the choice is between cheaper desktop systems – where a PC is transformed into a video conferencing device – and more expensive, dedicated systems which come with all the components packaged together – console, screen, camera, speakers, software and controller. The major equipment providers are Avaya, Cisco, Lifesize and Polycom, and Google has now entered the market with Chromebox. For higher quality, professional video conferencing the cost of hardware has limited adoption by small business, but even this cost is now becoming more affordable. As such, video conferencing is no longer restricted to the boardroom and is even available on hand held devices. Options exist to suit large and small businesses, offering varying levels of quality to match business needs. Some of the more popular systems include:

  • Lifesize: High quality, high definition (HD) services for corporate, government and business.
  • GoToMeeting: A web hosted service, created by Citrix. The advantage of GoToMeeting is that it is simple to operate. There is nothing to install.
  • WebEx from Cisco: A web hosted services, created by Cisco.
  • Google+ Hangouts: Free web based tool for a group or one-to-one conference.
  • Skype: Skype is a free voice over IP services developed by Microsoft.

There is an increasing range of other options available to suit need and budget, including Sqwiggle, Fuze and OmniJoin

Costs


The most popular services in use are GoToMeeting and WebEx, which currently incur the following costs:

  • GoToMeeting costs $468 per annum for 25 attendees and 1 meeting organiser. Costs vary according to the number of attendees. Options are available for Meetings, Webinars and Training.
  • WebEx also costs $468 per annum for 25 attendees and 1 meeting organiser. Costs vary according to the meeting plan selected and there are multiple options available.

Hardware


Simple but acceptable video conferencing can be achieved using a computer, with inbuilt microphone and camera. For higher quality video conferencing, a wide range of products are available in Australia from Avaya, Cisco, Google, Huawei, LG, LIfesize, Panasonic, Sony and Polycom.

Tips for the electrical industry

Connect via high speed broadband

Connectivity is one of the few limiting factors of video conferencing; there is nothing more unprofessional than losing connectivity during a meeting with a supplier or a client. Consider a second internet connection in your office, in case anything happens with the first. This will enable you to get back online as soon as possible.

Using Skype? Why not use it to make phone calls as well?

Services such as Skype allow you to make traditional phone calls at a much cheaper rate per minute than landlines and mobile phones. Simply connect a VoIP system to your computer and call a client via Skype Phone Call; the user at the other end will have no idea you’re calling via Skype.

Bring an agenda to video conference, and circulate it beforehand

As with normal meetings, its best to set an agenda before hand, to avoid lengthy, off topic delays.

Making regular video calls? Optimise your office space for video

Video provides a dynamic view of your office space. Consider your lighting styles before any meeting, and close the blinds to avoid glare on screen. You may like to paint your room a brighter colour than usual, to provide an eye catching backdrop and encourage engagement.

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